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Subject: Mold on books

Mold on books

From: Alice Smith Duncan <alsmith<-a>
Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2005
I was recently appointed executive director of a 50-room limestone
country house undergoing major restoration; many of its original
furnishings and household collections are still in situ, including a
multi-room library. It has been hot, muggy and spore-full this
summer; we have had an eruption of black mold, currently even more
worrisome than a pre-existing condition with English white mold that
is/can be semi-contained; both result from major humidity and
dampness issues house-wide that have yet to be resolved.

We have some very significant early books on display in our library
rooms; most are leather bound, many with slipsheeted illustration
plates over etchings printed with iron gall ink that have
extensively browned through their own pages and slips. I see black
mold forming along the base of spines, on top of bound pages, and
when I pull a volume, there is a dusty dark film over the cover that
while not black, certainly appears to me to be mold.

My collections manager, who is very part time but has a self-taught
interest in books, disagrees that we should remove these book from
their shelves in the house to a dryer external location. Her
argument is that moving them will be more injurious than leaving
them there; the house is unheated in the winter and will freeze
solid for at least a month, thus killing the mold. My argument is
that if the books are themselves damp through, as evidenced by the
ink corrosion, and the mold is there, and we have a serious case of
unmitigated humidity in the rooms, freezing and thawing and
refreezing and thawing will only exacerbate the damage already

Furniture surfaces are also suffering, but that's another question
for another time. Thoughts, please?

Alice Smith Duncan
Hyde Hall
Cooperstown NY 13316

                  Conservation DistList Instance 19:10
                Distributed: Wednesday, August 17, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-19-10-031
Received on Wednesday, 10 August, 2005

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